Relationships are a beautiful part of life. Whether romantically or platonically, connecting with another human being is undoubtedly one of the best experiences that life has to offer. Of course, within relationships, as with so many other things in life, change is inevitable. I doubt that there are very many of us, if any, who have maintained the exact same partner and/or core group of friends throughout the vast majority of our lives.
1. You Are Truly Yourself
Compromise is important in so many areas of life, including relationships, but when it comes to giving up elements of yourself to please a partner or maintain a relationship, I think it’s healthier to stand your ground. The best (and often lengthiest) relationships are those in which both parties can effortlessly be themselves without being faced by or fearing judgement, ridicule, or pressure to change. We all know when we are being fake; it’s therefore up to us to first see why we are being fake and then decide whether or not our true self would thrive in the relationship in the same way we seem to feel our fake one will.
2. Celebration Over Comparison
The best relationships are those in which ego-based comparisons are cast aside and replaced by a genuine happiness for the accomplishments of the other person. Rather than putting up a face that shows your pleasure for the other person when they get their dream job or land a hot date, the best relationships are those in which you actually feel happy for them.
3. You Lift Each Other Up
Although a lot of “comfort” can be found in mutually wallowing in a particular experience (such as complaining) or behaviour (such as drinking), in the most valuable relationships, each individual helps the other rise from hardship. This help can be a sympathetic ear, thoughtful reminders, or an assortment of other forms of support, but no matter the form it takes, it should aim to ensure that the other person never gets caught in an ongoing unhealthy state. Even though the action of change ultimately needs to come from the person caught in it, the most valuable relationship partners remind them of, and help them find, that power.
4. Differences Aren’t a Deal Breaker
Many relationships develop around similarities, and for obvious reasons. It would be much easier for me to find common ground, interests, and compatibility with someone who, like myself, enjoyed playing sports, creating films, and public speaking than it would for me to do the same with someone who enjoyed staying indoors, painting, and scrapbooking. Yet even with a common foundation, differences will inevitably arise in every relationship, and we tend not to let such differences come between us and people worth keeping in our lives. A great relationship is one in which time spent by one person doing what they are passionate about is truly seen as as valuable to the other person as quality time together — even if that passion is experienced with someone else.
5. The Past Is the Past
If asked to explain one of our most cherished relationships, most of us would quickly resort to a number of memorable moments to help paint the picture of how close the connection really is. As awesome as reliving the past can be, the best relationships tend to be those that stay within the present moment. This is particularly helpful for overcoming any challenges the two of you may have faced at one point in time. Rather than forever holding past transgressions or issues against someone, even if just quietly in the background of a seemingly now trouble-free connection, the choice to let the past go and be in the present allows both people to more fully enjoy everything that the other has to offer.
6. No Mind Games
Particularly in the realm of romantic relationships, a lot of people love the thrill and uncertainty that come with trying to figure the other person out, often screwing up a number of times along the way. Despite this, the most valuable relationships tend to be ones that no longer feature any mind games. You both know who the other is, love them for being that way, and can each be yourself comfortably without the unnecessary mind chatter.
7. An Extension of the Human Experience
I believe that the best relationships are those in which both people see the relationship as an extension of the human experience and not the basis of their happiness. The more we rely on others to provide us fulfillment, the more we hold ourselves back from being truly independent, and ultimately the more pressure we put on our relationships. It’s often when relationships are not being looked at to fill a particular void, or to make us feel a certain way, that the most authentic and valuable ones are formed.
8. Knowing That It Can End at Any Time
This may sound like a particularly morbid way to end an otherwise lighthearted list, but I truly believe that the best relationships are the ones where both people recognize and accept the fact that it could change, and possibly even end, at any given moment. This understanding, in my opinion and experience, paves the way for a freedom that ultimately makes a relationship of the deepest variety available. It’s not to say that every relationship must come to an end at some point, but understanding that it could gives it, and both people involved, the freedom to fully explore the shape and depth of their bond.
Even though I do not consider or promote myself to be a relationship expert of any kind, I truly hope that you have enjoyed this list. Whether you agree with all eight of the signs or not, I hope that I’ve at the very least given you some food for thought. Be sure to share any thoughts and insights via the comment section below, and feel free to share any others that you feel belong on the list!